Building Business Resilience During Scarcity and Climate Change

Regardless if you believe that climate change is caused by human behaviors or caused by the natural warming and cooling of the planet. there are certain aspects to this topic that are bound to affect large and small businesses. There are intense weather patterns which are disruptive. Beyond climate change, there are questions about certain resources becoming more scarce such as oil, helium and some metals.

Certainty and uncertainty

The certainty is that particular parts of the world, specific countries even, are growing economically and therefore buying more stuff. This creates higher prices for commodities.

The uncertainty lies in how weather, costs and resources become unpredictable and affect the day to day operations of a business. The polar vortex experienced this winter in the US may have had a $5 billion effect. Natural disasters such as flooding, volcanic eruptions and typhoons can disrupt travel, supply lines and cause workers to slow down or stop production. While most businesses are looking at how the banks are functioning and other economic indicators, they may need to expand to include the environment(s) in which they operate.

Andrew Winston’s “Big Pivot”

Andrew Winston, author of The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World, advocates a more “…profound change in strategy, operations, and business philosophy that will make organizations more resilient and help them create new value in a hotter, resource-scarce world.” This is the “Big Pivot.”

In his Harvard Business Review article, “Resilience in a Hotter World,” he explains that there are three types of resilience that organizations must put in place:

  • Cost and risk resilience
  • Revenue resilience
  • Brand resilience

Pivot strategies: Vision, Valuation and Partners

These resiliencies are created when the pivot strategies are adhered to. According to Winston, companies who are more willing to make “…dramatic improvements in operational efficiency and cuts in material and energy use, waste, and carbon emissions, companies become much more flexible and, possibly, antifragile.” He also points out that this pivot is not based on corporate social responsibility. It is based on self-interest. As in, companies who uses renewable energy sources, seek ways to use less resources and increase trust in its relationships with consumers, competitors and communities are more likely to make a profit and thrive.

Winston’s perspective (in a nutshell)

Vision: Rather than simply looking at quarterly reports, companies need to take on a more long-term perspective that looks at years and not months. To do this, it is important to ask “heretical questions” regarding operational, manufacturing and/or economic growth.

Valuation: Not only should companies look at what will maximize their earnings by calculating what will create value. Winston points out that there are things that are much harder to assign a value to such as pollution or job creation. Valuation has to also include natural capital (things in the natural environment).

Partners: This is another area that Winston calls for radical differences. The partners seem like the natural go-to’s…governments, competitors and customers. The radical differences could be teaming up with competitors to lobby for certain environmental policies or partnering with suppliers and consumers to change potential or real systemic problems.

There are changes in the environment

There are still concerns about certain resources decreasing and natural disasters affecting business resilience. It is likely that most companies would say they desire sustainability. However, there is still a mindset that profit and making stockholders happy are more important. There may even be resistance from companies following through on the “Big Pivot” because it may seem too costly or counter-intuitive to source materials differently or advocate for certain environmental policies. Many countries look to their governments to make the necessary changes and individuals (companies or people) do not see how they can be part of that process.

What do you think? Is Andrew Winston advocating some kind of “pie in the sky” behavior or is his “Big Pivot” actually necessary for long term resilience and sustainability? Join us on the Twitter chat #KaizenBiz Friday, April 11, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and add your insights, opinions and expertise to the conversation.

To what degree have organizations had to change how they evaluate environmental events/storms?

Winston states that incremental changes are not enough. How would an organization make the radical thinking/behavioral leaps he is advocates?

If commodities are increasing in price and certain resources are dwindling, how would a manufacturer change consumer behavior?

Some of what Winston advocates seem high cost changes. How would you make the business case that the “Big Pivot” is smart move?

 

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Could “Living” Quality Be The Route To Sustainability?

culture of quality, corporate culture, Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan KureyA colleague and I were recently discussing whether there was truly an increase in the speed of technological change and turbulence in the business world now versus any other time in history. The twentieth century certainly saw huge leaps in technology and you could even argue the the Industrial Revolution (approximately 1760 to about 1840) was a time of change and turbulence. But one thing is true. When there is great change,  there are philosophical shifts that accompany technological changes. Corporate culture is certainly an expression of those philosophical shifts.

Philosophical shifts change how companies produce

The current workplace trends are showing how these philosophical changes are taking place. Assumptions about customers have been challenged by social media and Big Data. Leadership and the ways companies are organized are focused on ways to increase employee engagement. There is more movement to remote working, flatter organizations and fostering more ownership by everyone in the company. Still, there is tension between seeing world as potentially open and constraining.

In all of these trends is the pursuit of quality

Seeking differentiation in the marketplace in the short term and sustainability for the long term, companies are looking to define quality.  According to Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey, consistent quality may be elusive at times because

“…the likelihood of error has risen. In many industries, cycle times are compressing. During the recovery from the Great Recession, output gains have outpaced employment growth, and employees report straining to keep up with demands.

Due to these factors, Srinivasan and Kurey say that a new approach to quality is necessary.

So what is a “true culture of quality?”

Srinivasan and Kurey wriite in their Harvard Business Review article that when employees “live” quality as a personal value rather than being told to comply, companies create an environment where there are fewer mistakes and a healthier bottom line. While it is tempting to see this through a lens of kaizen or other total quality management, it is more than this. There are four factors that support quality as an overall cultural value.

  • leadership emphasis
  • message credibility
  • peer involvement
  • employee ownership of quality issues

Moving towards sustainability

It seems that making quality a part of the corporate culture would naturally lead to sustainablity. Yet, it is clear from the research done by Srinivasan and Kurey that the corporate culture has to be part of everyday behavior, a living reality. One thing that is less clear is how quality is defined. Is it like kaizen and involves incremental steps towards making things better? Or is it more about taking pride in one’s work? But perhaps creating a culture of quality is both and more. According to Jim Dougherty, corporate culture has to be part of the business model. The emphasis on quality seems akin to the search for excellence. It takes all levels of the organization to make the four factors work on a daily basis. This is how corporate culture is expressed anyway. If this alignment is complete, it is more likely for a company to be sustainable.

This is merely the beginning of this conversation so please join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz on Friday, March 28, 2014 at 4pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. We welcome your thoughts and insights about how “living” quality could be the route to sustainability.

 

How would you define a “culture of quality?”

Who is best suited to define what is quality? Why?

What types of obstacles might prevent a “culture of quality” from developing?

How would you hire to create a “culture of quality”?

What relationship do you see between “culture of quality” and sustainability?

 

 

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Headline Convo – Gender Pay Gaps, Resume is Dead and CEO Pay

KaizenBiz , Twitter chat,This week is our monthly “Bring Your Own Headline” discussion. This conversation is usually much more wide ranging and even better when someone from the KaizenBiz community shares something that caught their attention. What are you reading or viewing that made you stop and think? This week, we are going to move from topic to topic and see what big ideas are popping up. So, check out these stories and bring your own this Friday to the live Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 4pm GMT/12pm ET/9am.

Women entrepreneurs pay themselves less?

We often think of how entrepreneurship can be totally designed by the individual entrepreneur. He or she can designate their hours, their rate of pay and the products and services that are offered. Arecent Babson College study discovered that women entrepreneurs pay themselves approximately 80% of their male counterparts. While the study does not explain why this occurs, it seems rather interesting that there is a gap.

It is easy to focus on the US since this conversation about salary gaps has been going on for some time. It even made a mention in the 2014 State of the Union address by President Obama. However, there is a bigger picture. There is gender wage gap all over the world (here is an infographic from Time). While there are some who will argue that it has everything to do with the types of businesses women found. After all, some work is valued more than other work. There is always the argument that women take time off from work due to family obligations. Still, there are questions about what the disparities mean in real life.

What are the possible business reasons women entrepreneurs pay themselves less?

How does looking at men’s pay as the standard skew our perceptions of what are appropriate salaries?

If we make the picture more global, what sorts of socioeconomic reasons exist for women entrepreneurs to pay themselves less?

Just when you thought job hunting could not get more complicated

There are always reports that something is “dead.” Now it is the resume (or the CV, curriculum vitae) that is passe. With the global economy growing (albeit sluggishly), many companies are hiring new staff. While this Forbes post is self-serving the author, he does point out how different things have become in the job hunt. With potential employers looking at social media, search engines and in-person networking, the resume simply confirms information about you. This certainly puts the resume fairly low in importance. Interestingly, in a post by BlueGlue (a managed recruitment service firm based in the UK), the cv is described as less important than the online information and digital portfolios. If the resume and the cv are being phased out, this may become a stumbling block for many job seekers.

How much weight do recruiters and human resources professionals put on resumes/ cv’s versus online information?

If resumes and cv’s are less important, what social ramifications are there for job seekers?

LinkedIn is mentioned as a resource for both job seekers and recruiters. To what degree is this social media site used around the world?

 The relationship between CEO pay and performance

Periodically, there is a conversation about CEO pay. There are often huge gaps between what the CEO is paid compared to others in the company. Another area that gets people talking is how CEOs are never really punished for failing as they get golden parachutes. The connection between these two conversations is whether or not there really is a relationship between CEO pay and performance.

It certainly seems that CEOs of large companies are much like the manager or head coach of a sports team. When things are going well, the CEO is praised and when things are going badly, well, the CEO is at fault. They are paid very high salaries which makes one wonder if they truly have the skills to merit such a reward and do they really matter that much to their organizations.

Gilles Hilary, INSEAD Associate Professor of Accounting & Control, states that CEOs do bring quite a lot of value to their organizations. In a HKUST Business School study, they discovered that if there is good governance and strong shareholder rights, CEO compensation is a good predictor of success. But as Rick Wartzmann asked in his Forbes post, how do you define performance? There is a temptation to aim for increased revenues and profits but that could result in undermining the long term health of the company, discouraging innovation or weakening the overall vision and strategy of the company.

What criteria must a CEO meet in order to be described as performing well?

How is the pay of CEOs of smaller organizations tied to performance?

To what degree are CEOs involved with the actual performance of the company?

 Time for your suggestions

The above topics are my suggestions for our lighting roundtable discussion on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. If something caught your attention this week, bring it the discussion on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 4pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. Remember to include the link and even  one or two discussion questions

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Is Freelancing Becoming More Permanent Way of Working?

Are you entrepreneurial in your career? Do you work for yourself? Both of these questions have become more common over recent years. There is a sense of both disillusionment and frustration with the traditional 40 hour a week job model. For knowledge workers, in particular, this job model does not reflect how work gets done. For others, shift work has changed or extended unemployment has made it necessary to find alternative sources of income. Frankly, there are a number of workplace trends that add to how freelancing has become much more common.

So, what’s going on?

There is some interesting information globally about freelancing. According to a Elance survey, the top freelancing countries are

  • United States
  • Indiana
  • Ukraine
  • Pakistan
  • United Kingdom
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • Philippines
  • Romania
  • China

So this is not just a US phenomenon, according to Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk, freelancing is disrupting the workplace. He writes that the trends for 2014 are

  • Freelancers will gain recognition as part of the workforce
  • Teams will be like movie crews
  • Voluntary job quitters will abound
  • Reinvesting in being people-focused rather than tech-focused
  • Careers will launch virtually

In a CNBC article, Elaine Pofeldt writes that the unemployment rate is dropping despite the slow job growth rate. Although she focuses on the US experience of freelancing, there are similar reasons across countries as to why people choose freelancing over a traditional job. According to “How Freelancers Are Redefining Success To Be About Value, Not Wealth“, there are strong attractors. In our Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, we’ve talked about how people are seeking more meaning and autonomy in their work lives.

So perhaps success is being redefined?

With the recent movie, The Wolf of Wall Street,  we are reminded of how success has been defined (and may be still defined). Traditionally, people who became successful are wealthy, connected and have a certain level of power. Freelancers could certainly have connections since networking is a key part of their marketing plan. But what about wealth or power? It seems “value” is more about work/life balance. Although wealth, power and fame are desires for some people, these often are also accompanied by working excessive hours, health issues and complicated personal relationships. This way of life is being rejected with more frequency.

More permanent way of working?

This is a curious question. Most people think that working for an organization is a more secure way of working due to regular pay and benefits. However, the last several years of economic turbulence has combined to make organizations more skiittish about hiring and employees less certain that they have job security or even that they want the day to day of workplace politics and a lack control over their time and energy.  Yet, it’s not all a bed of roses for freelancers. It is difficult to clock out when you are your own boss, there is often a feeling of feast or famine regarding work load and clients as well as difficult making sure that there is enough income to pay for health insurance, taxes or other financial obligations.

What do you think? Is freelancing the next trend in how people work? How will it change employment or even unemployment? Join us Friday, March 14, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to look at this more closely on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

What does “freelancing” mean to you?

As freelancing becomes more permanent way of working, is it a variation of small business or something separate? 

How does freelancing change how work gets done?

Freelancing is often touted as positive way to manage & live life. What are downsides?

How does freelancing affect how we define success? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Connecting Profit and Doing Good – Possible?

Which is more important – profit or doing good? For most corporations, profit has been everything. “Doing good” has been charitable donations, programs or other community engagement has been the window dressing for many companies so they can say they are socially responsible. And yet, there are so many times we hear of questionable or unethical practices such as credit card companies are charging fees even when you have a zero balance, manufacturing processes that release dangerous (even lethal) substances into water systems or mistreating their employees. Often these behaviors stem from people in a particular company seeking to save money and increase profits so they can expand, pay bonuses and/or dividends.

 Harish Marwani’s perspective

In his TED talk, Harish Marwani, CEO of Unilever, proposes that corporate social responsibility is a standard part of any 21st century business. He proposes that there is a fourth G in his growth philosophy:

  • Consistent
  • Competitive
  • Profitable
  • Responsible

Marwani explains that:

Companies cannot afford to be just innocent bystanders in what’s happening around in society. They have to begin to play their role in terms of serving the communities which actually sustain them. And we have to move to a model of an and/and model which is how do we make money and do good? How do we make sure that we have a great business but we also have a great environment around us? And that model is all about doing well and doing good.

It is more than making the product or service you are known for. In Marwani’s case, Unilever is known for making soap. He spoke about the programs sponsored by Unilever as part of their sustainability model. He also said Unilever was also looking for sustainable sources for ingredients in their products. For Marwani and Unilever, doing good is about finding sustainable sources for their products and sponsoring programs.

John Paluszek, Pioneer of Corporate Social Responsibility

It has been the practice of companies, particularly larger companies, to focus on increasing profit as well as value for shareholders. More recently, there has been a trend for companies to ask if there is some sort of relationship they should have with the community in which they are based and maybe even beyond with vendors and charitable groups. John Paluszek is one of the drivers of this conversation.

In a  Forbes interview, Paluszek explains five areas of corporate responsibility:

  1. “Natural” accounting dilemma and environmental impact
  2. Noticing which framework(s) provide the best way of accounting and set the tipping point for corporate social responsibliity to become mainstream
  3. “Business for peace” (UN Nations Global Compact)
  4. Inequality will be a driving force for new thinking about a greater commitment to ethics, morality in business decisions and capitalism
  5. The next generation of leaders will be more committed personally and professionally

Not entirely clear yet

It is difficult for some people to adjust to the idea that business can be a force for good. There are people who are willing to buy from companies who actively engage in sourcing sustainable ingredients, attend vigorously to environmental concerns and sponsor charitable programs. But other questions arise. The very definition of “doing good” is fraught with the history of one group coming in and telling others what is good for them without regard to what might already be in place. There is also the question if mainstream consumers care more about price or the reputation of the company. And maybe most of all, there are serious questions about capitalism and how it influences human behavior.

What do you think? Could a company be more sustainable if profit and doing good are connected?  Join us Friday, March 7, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to look at this more closely on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

What differences exist between smaller organizations and large corporations embracing corporate social responsibility ?

Who defines what is “doing good”?

What sort of definition(s) are we giving to “sustainability”?

How is the desire for meaning and purpose of the individual employee influencing organizations engaging in corporate social responsibility?

How would you measure how companies make a profit and do good?

 

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Similiarities, Differences and Co-Existence of Kaizen and Innovation

When KaizenBiz community members suggest a post or topic, I listen and find a way to include it in our weekly chat. So, when Bernd Nurnberger (@CoCreatr) suggested a post on how Amazon is using kaizen, it seemed interesting to look at kaizen. Companies of all sizes are often looking for ways to be better, more efficient but there is also a desire to innovate products and services so they can capture more of the market. Where are the similarities and differences between kaizen and innovation? And can they co-exist in the same organization?

Kaizen – quick review

Kaizen is a Japanese concept of continuous and incremental improvement of a process. This process might be a manufacturing process, an accounting process or a customer service and the continuous improvements make the process more effective and efficient. Toyota is the most famous example of a company that uses kaizen although a number of companies also use it.

Innovation

We’ve talked about innovation a few times on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz because it is somewhat elusive and much desired by nearly every company that exists. In “What’s All the Fuss About Innovation?“, I used this definition, “the process of translating an idea or invention to a good or service that creates value for which customers will pay.” Curiously, for this framing post, I ran across another definition from an Australian govemment initiative which described innovation as “…renewing, changing or creating more effective processes, products or ways of doing things.” With the Australian government’s definition, it might seem that there is little difference between kaizen and innovation.

Other overlaps

Here are some other overlaps that spring to mind:

  • Both kaizen and innovation rely on someone identifying that there is another (and better) way to do something.
  • Organizational leaders must be sponsors and/or supporters for the changes to be explored and implemented
  • They both depend on ideas
  • Iteration is often part of the process
  • Use creativity in problem solving

However there are differences

Even with a number of overlaps, there are ways that kaizen and innovation are not the same:

  • Kaizen is a continous process that uses incremental steps and can be rigorous in its application across the organization
  • Innovation can range from being small adjustments or changes or radical new things
  • Innovation can seem chaotic or without structure due to the creative process
  • Kaizen is typically anyone’s job in an organization while innovation tends to be assigned to a particular group of people
  • Kaizen focuses on what is and how it can better and more efficient
  • Innovation focuses on what could be and how it is new and/or disruptive

 But can they co-exist?

There are a few dynamics swirling around organizations. One is the memory of the experience of the Great Recession is still very fresh so there are policies, business goals and expectations created in response. This is certainly prudent as companies are rebuilding and adjusting to the current circumstances. Another dynamic is the rapid progression of technological advancements. One of the other dynamics is this mindset that unless a company is innovative, it is unsustainable and will fail. In a Forbes post, Vijay Govindarajan is quoted saying,

“The more you hardwire a company on total quality management, [the more] it is going to hurt breakthrough innovation. The mindset that is needed, the capabilities that are needed, the metrics that are needed, the whole culture that is needed for discontinuous innovation, are fundamentally different.”

That seems to indicate that they cannot co-exist. This opens a number of questions. Not all organizations are designed to pursue radical changes. There may even be a lack of understanding of both kaizen and innovation.

What do you think? Is there a place for kaizen alongside innovation? What similarities and differences do you believe exist?  Join us Friday, February 28, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to look at this more closely on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

Is there any chance that something is missing or missed as systems are tweaked and refined?

What is the difference between change and improvement?

In what ways could kaizen prevent innovation in an organization?

How could kaizen could co-exist with innovation? Are any adaptations necessary?

 

 

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Is Branding Going Through Another Evolution Or More of the Same?

Branding is always an interesting topic. In many ways, successful branding is a bit like catching lightning in a bottle as it is hard to know just how a consumer sees a particular company.. Paula Lawlor of the Beacon Initiative describes “…branding is what you are.” From your logo to how you are represented in your communications, branding is meant to illustrate who a company is in the world and what sort of person buys from said company.

Coca-Cola is an easy example

It is easy to identify the red and white and particular font used by Coca-Cola. Coke is meant to signify happiness and community. From the recent American ad to the bottles with names printed on them in 32 countries in Europe, Coca Cola has been clear about who they are and why they want the consumer to pick their carbonated beverage over another. They are speaking to lifestyle and values, not thirst.

But is branding really changing or is it more of the same?

A recent New Yorker post by James Surowiecki claims we’re in “The Twilight of the Brands.” He uses Lululemon as an example of how brands are fragile. After the debacle with the see-through yoga pants and the fabric pilling, Lululemon’s brand could no longer be associated with the “lifestyle” they branded. And adding to this public crisis is the access consumers have to information about brands and their products. Surowiecki explains that brand loyalty is largely a relic of a time when information was less accessible. A company can make a fabulous or disastrous product and have it discussed and dissected via social media. This coupled with segmentation and that a company’s reputation is based on the most recent product (not its history) could very well make branding even more ephemeral.

This seems to say that branding has to evolve into a “personality” more than a message

Branding does seem to be more about “who you are” rather than historical performance. Just because Sony made a great television in that past doesn’t mean consumers will trust that its current product is equally as good. Which brings us to Tom Asacker’s question, “Does branding matter?” In his post, Asacker writes, “A brilliant idea, even if placed directly in people’s paths, is simply not enough to engage them today.” This seems to agree with Surowiecki’s point that brand loyalty is waning, if not dead. It is not the idea that matters, it is the “impassioned dance.” Branding seems to becoming a mutual storytelling between company and consumers. Perception, context and priorities are more than a message. They embody the personality of the company. Whether an organization sells itself as green, innovative, sustainable or some other sexy concept depends on the consumer participating in creating the message. Brand evangelization, word of mouth and social media posts and shares describe companies as “someone” with whom to do business. If branding is really a mutual act between company and consumer, it may be that branding is evolving.

What do you think? Is branding going through another evolution or is it really more of the same? Join us Friday, February 21, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to look at this more closely on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

How is branding really an expression of the consumer’s desired lifestyle?

What trends or changes do you see in how companies brand themselves?

 How does access to information from other consumers add to a brand’s story?

How is branding more like a company’s personality than a message?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, executive coach, trainer and international expansion consultant, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

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Okay, Managers, How Do You Keep Good Employees?

managers, keep good employees, stay interviews, performance coachingWhile you may be reading news articles reporting how many jobs were created in your region of the world, it is often interesting to see if this is a localized event or something bigger. According to a 2013 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, global trends point to positive growth but survey after survey of employee engagement still report dismal numbers.

So, what’s a manager to do with the new and existing employees?

We have discussed employee engagement before on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz but we usually look at it from the employee’s perspective. But there are certain challenges for managers. There is plenty of advice to be more authentic and to act as more of a facilitator of people’s talents and personalities. There are many workplace trends that affect the nature of management. And yet, the basics tasks of management haven’t changed. Managers are still expected to plan, organize, coordinate, encourage, provide and monitor their staff. The methods may change over time but not the essential job.

But aren’t the methods really at the nub of finding and keeping good employees?

This is where the 21st workplace is something of a crucible for managers. Leaders may navigate the company as a whole through the turbulence left in the wake of the Great Recession, rapid technological changes and other factors but managers are the ones who are making sure the actual work gets done. There is always a search for more effective or efficient ways to identify the “right” employee or process that support meeting the business goals. It might be stack ranking or some other talent management system. It may even be the never-ending search for the best project management or productivity tools. But all of these tools cannot replace the most basic of managerial skills –the ability to relate and communicate. These skills are what are cited time and again in employee engagement surveys.

Two possible avenues to support managers engaging with their employees better

Keeping top-notch employees is certainly a goal for any manager. One avenue is to conduct “stay interviews.” Rather than waiting for the exit interview to find out what one of your star employees did not like, stay interviews are one-on-one conversations reviewing the employee’s career goals, rating current performance and possible action steps to maintain (or increase) the employee’s engagement.

Another avenue is to adding performance coaching skills. In a previous career, I supervised mental health clinicians and found that facilitating their learning and insight both helped them provide better therapy but it also helped me know where their blind spots were and what kinds of clients they were best suited for. According to Josh Patrick, this process is far superior to performance reviews since performance coaching conversations could be on-going brief meetings and formalizes what managers are already doing when they check in with employees regarding assigned projects.

What do you think? What tools or behaviors can a manager use to keep good employees engaged? Join us Friday, February 14, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to discuss how managers can keep good employees on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz 

What types of skills are most necessary for managing employees well?

To what degree do we act as if planning, organizing, coordinating and monitoring is not connected to the quality of the relationship between managers and direct reports?

What current management trends are getting in the way of facilitating employees’ performance?

Along with stay interviews and performance coaching, what other things can managers do to keep good employees?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, executive coach, trainer and international expansion consultant, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

 

 

 

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Useful Procrastination, Satya Nadella and Holacracy

Twitter, Twitter chat, KaizenBizIt is time for “Bring Your Own Headline” on our Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this coming Friday. It is always fun to see what community members bring for discussion. If you would like to bring something for us to talk about, simply bring the link and a question. Here are three topics, procratination, Satya Nadella and holacracy, to get us started…

Procrastination is good?

Most of us probably squirm a bit when we think of tasks we are avoiding.However, according to a two books reviewed in Fast Company, we would be much better off if we did procrastinate more. There is a catch to this though. If you are just procrastinating without a purpose, the books’ authors agree that this is laziness. Both Frank Partnoy and John Perry recommend “structure procrastination.” Here are their reasons why procrastination can be useful:

  • Structured procrastinators get more done. While they put off one task, they complete others.
  • Procrastinator make better decisions. During the delay, there is more time to think through the options and gather information.
  • Procrastination leads to creativity. A task that is too hard to complete might need a different process.
  • Unnecessary tasks disappear. Busy work is pointless and avoiding it allows for space to take on the important tasks.
  • Procrastination leads to better apologies. Again, time to think is built into the delay and then the best words can be found.
  • Procrastination gives you insight. Sometimes we put things off because we have an unconscious reason driving our behavior. The delay can illuminate this unconscious reason.

When do you see procrastination as being useful?

How is procrastination connected to decision fatigue and difficulty maintaining self-control?

With procrastination, are we really seeking time to think with putting off tasks?

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO

With Steve Ballmer stepping down this month, there is a new CEO for Microsoft. Satya Nadella. Before Ballmer stepped down, he had announced that Microsoft would go in a new direction. Ballmer is certainly noted for his ebullient personality With the choice of Satya Nadella,  Nadella is known as a quiet but business-savvy person with a strong engineering background. Quite a number of people describe Nadella as inclusive and able to get people engaged and excited in their work. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft not only responds to the current market but introduces its own new ideas.

Why do you suppose Microsoft chose to go with Satya Nadella rather than someone similar to Steve Ballmer?

What’s next for Microsoft?

And just what is holacracy?

Just when you thought you had a good grasp of the latest business structure terms, here comes a new one. Holacracy is “a self-governing, purpose-driven business structure that reassigns authority and responsibility based on the task at hand.” Companies that are able to respond positively to the current marketplace need to be agile and use collaboration among other tools.

This business structure has no CEO or managers. Each person is a partner with complete autonomy and authority. On Holacracy One, they write, “Everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others’, processing tensions with real authority and real responsibility, through dynamic governance and transparent operations.” This is to encourage project ownership and accountability instead of keeping people limited to their departments or skill set. Governance of organizations that use holacracy have a more democratic approach to make decisions, respond to “tension” and design rules to contain certain personalities from dominating the whole. Data is used actively in strategic planning and decision-making.

What size organization could benefit the most from using holacracy as their business structure?

What sorts of advantages do  you see for organizations that do use holacracy?

What could be the disadvantages?

Now it’s your turn

Join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, this Friday, February 7, 2014 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT with a post that caught your attention this week. Connect with Elli St.George Godfrey (@3keyscoach) jas the chat starts and let her know your link and your question. She will add your topic to the discussion.

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Smart Simplicity-6 Rules For Over-Complicated Organizations

Six Simple Rules, Yves Morieux, complexity, managementYves Morieux has an intriguing idea….6 simple rules for managing complex organizations. Morieux is a senior partner and managing director in the Boston Consulting Group and so has studied organizations and how they stumble. In his TED talk, he explains that it all started with a question regarding why productivity levels are disappointing and workers are so disengaged. Morieux points out that these conditions persist despite all the programs, events and training that is provided to employees at all levels of the organization.

Some background information

According to Morieux, there are “two pillars of management” and they are obsolete.

  • Hard: structure, process, systems, matrices
  • Soft: feelings, interpersonal relationships, traits

Morieux explains that the more complexity a business encounters, the more it creates “complicatedness in the organization.” Simply put, a new “rule”  or requirement is encountered in the business environment adding to the existing complexity. The organization responds by creating a new person who then creates a new system. Thus, everyone is more removed from see how the organization might respond more effectively in the future.

 ”Cooperation”

The answer put forth by Morieux is that people within organizations should cooperate more. In a 2011 Harvard Business Review article, he wrote,…

it entails creating an environment in which employees can work with one another to develop creative solutions to complex challenges. This approach leads to organizations that ably address numerous fluid and contradictory requirements without structural and procedural complicatedness.

To reduce or eliminate disengagement, there must be more cooperation

Morieux states that the hard approach (adding more matrices, systems and employees to respond to changes) creates more problems than it solves. He also places a greater emphasis on why the soft approach to management fails to engage workers. He states the “more we like each other, the more we avoid cooperation” so we don’t have to deal with uncomfortable “trade-offs.” These trade-offs might be having one set of resources rather than duplicate resources, requiring different sections of the organization to swap personnel and tolerating poor performance or mistakes.

 6 Simple Rules

Morieux derived these rules from game theory and organizational sociology. He advocates that we stop over-complicating our companies and still respond skillfully to the complex business environment.

  1. Understand what others do – Take the time to find out what is the real work, not the job description
  2. Reinforce integrators – Give managers (these are the integrators) discretionary power and interest to make others cooperate
  3. Increase total quantity of power – Empower everyone to use their judgement, intelligence and skills
  4. Extend the shadow of the future – Create a feedback loop for people to directly experience the consequences of their actions; how my real work affects customers and the company
  5. Increase reciprocity by removing buffers of self-sufficiency – Eliminate systems and processes that support and maintain silos
  6. Reward those who cooperate and blame those who don’t – Morieux quotes Jorgen Vig Knudstorp of The Lego Group as saying blame is for failing to help or for not asking for help; not for failing

Using these rules will reduce creating redundant systems which prevent cross-disciplinary communication and positive effect both financial and human resource policies. Basically, these rules create improved performance, more work satisfaction and lower costs.

Are these rules that different than in other management theories?

Much of what goes on in today’s organizations seems to echo an early 20th century management philosophy put forth by F.W. Taylor (and even has been revived as neo-Taylorism) We may have gussied up the terms but there is still a pervasive idea that workers are supposed to be the “best and the brightest,” fit into a mold, stick with linear processes and systems and be motivated by reward and punishment (there is more in this fascinating critique of Taylorism and neo-Taylorism). Morieux’ simple rules seem to step away from Taylorism in any form and offer a different way of viewing both management, development and management of systems and how employees both interact and perform.

In past discussions, Morieux has acknowledged that pieces of the rules resemble Six Sigma, Lean and other management theories. It certainly seems like it could incorporate the concept of kaizen (continuous and incremental improvement). Curiously, he has not gotten more specific about what type of leader or management style would complement his rules.

What do you think about these rules? A new way of thinking? A rehash of current ideas? Join us this Friday, January 31, 2014 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and share your thoughts and insights. 

Would  you say that today’s larger organizations are complex or over-complicated? Why?

As you read through the Morieux’ rules, what did you find most intriguing?

How practical are these rules in the day-to-day operation?

Although Morieux claims the 2 pillars of managment are obsolete, how do his rules use them?

What management style would best support execution of these rules?

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